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Local News

April 25, 2014

Code officer got early look at Hillside units

This fall semester, some college students have signed up to live in a four-story apartment building made of modular units stacked on and nestled next to each other.

Hillside Commons is only one of two buildings known to be constructed with crane-installed prefabricated sections or units in the city of Oneonta, according to city officials said. The other building composed of some modular sections was the Clarion Hotel downtown.

Hillside Commons, a 331-bed apartment complex for college students, has been rising on Blodgett Drive, and officials said about 250 modular units will be used. The private development is near the State University College at Oneonta campus.

Newman Development Group is using the modular units for the first time in its construction of Hillside Commons, a decision based on an expectation of higher quality of construction for the same price, according to Jeffrey Smetana, a vice president at the development company.

Construction is on schedule for opening in August, according to the Hillside Commons website. Modular units began arriving in Oneonta in March, the site said, and generally “two boxes make up one complete apartment.” 

Some apartments still are available for lease, officials said Thursday. 

Last year, some local landlords and residents criticized the $23 million project based on concerns about the student housing market and impact on the neighborhood, municipal resources and payments in lieu of taxes.

In February, at about the time local delivery of the modular units started, Robert Chiappisi, Oneonta’s code enforcement officer, went to visit the DeLuxe Building Systems plant to see the modular units under construction. Chiappisi said project officials tired of answering his questions and invited him to the plant in Berwick, Pa., to see production operations.

Chiappisi said he was concerned about sprinklers and other quality-control factors in the units that couldn’t be seen after delivery. The units arrive with toilets, bathtubs and kitchen cabinets in place, he said, and appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers are installed later.

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